The Four Stages of Bed Sores in Nursing Home Residents
Bed sores are one of the most common injuries suffered by nursing home residents. The less mobile an elderly person is, the more likely they are to experience this painful form of injury when neglected by nursing home staff.
Nursing home staff members are supposed to make sure bed sores never happen. In fact, the existence of a bed sore could be a sign that a facility isn’t taking good care of a resident.
The more you know about bed sores and how to identify them, the better equipped you’ll be to notice when your loved one is being given negligent care in their nursing home.
How to Identify the Severity of a Bed Sore
Bed sores are ulcers that result from sustained pressure on the skin. They predictably progress from mild discolorations to serious injuries that penetrate skin tissue all the way to the bone when left untreated. This progression happens in four stages.
Stage One Bed Sores
What it looks like: As a bed sore forms, the affected skin takes on a red hue. The area might also be more sensitive to touch. At this point, there are no wounds or openings in the skin.
What to do: First you need to determine if the red spot if a bed sore or simply irritation. One way to test the presence of a stage one bed sore is to press firmly on the sore and see if the skin turns pale once you release pressure. If it doesn’t, then it’s likely a stage one bed sore.
Stage Two Bed Sores
What it looks like: As the ulcer progresses to stage two, it becomes painful, especially when touched. Typically, a wound starts to form during stage two of the bed sore. It might look like a blister and appear redder and more swollen than it did in stage one.
What to do: Medical intervention is important in stage two, as it can prevent the ulcer from penetrating the body more deeply and decrease the likelihood that the bed sore becomes infected.
Stage Three Bed Sores
What it looks like: During stage three of a bed sore, the affected area now will have an open wound that resembles a cavity or crater. Stage three bed sores often have a strong or foul odor. The surrounding area will appear very red. It’s likely the wound will ooze pus.
What to do: Stage three bed sores require immediate medical treatment. Antibiotics and mild surgical interventions might be necessary.
Stage Four Bed Sores
What it looks like: Stage four bed sores are incredibly painful. Areas that were red in the prior three stages might begin to take on a black color. The wound enlarges and deepens. In some cases, the bed sore extends into muscle, soft tissue, and—in the worst of cases—bones and cartilage.
What to do: Stage four bed sores are medical emergencies. The risk of infection is high, and surgical interventions are often necessary. These injuries can take several months or even years to heal.
Learning More About the Dangers of Bed Sores
At Sawyer Law Firm, we’re all too familiar with these injuries. We’ve worked with several clients with loved ones who suffered very serious bed sores at the hands of negligent nursing homes.
Read our short guide on understanding bed sores to learn more about who is most susceptible to bed sores and steps to avoid these potentially fatal and preventable injuries.
If Your Loved One Has Bed Sores, Act Now
If your loved one has a bed sore, it’s important to act immediately before it progresses: infections are serious business. If your loved one is in a nursing home, alert the staff about the bed sore. You might also need to consider legal action if you believe your loved one isn’t being given the care they need, because negligence tends to only get worse over time when left unconfronted.
At Sawyer Law Firm, we help clients hold negligent nursing homes accountable when they negligent residents to the point of developing bed sores. Contact our Alabama nursing home injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and start getting your bedridden loved one the help they need.